News Published: Sep 13, 2009 - 11:26 AM


State-owned scenic lands to be listed on new digital public map

By Governor Rell's Office


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Concerned that strips of protected, but long forgotten state-owned scenic woodland along major highways are at risk of being encroached upon by development, Governor Rell today announced the state will begin a comprehensive inventory of the parcels for inclusion on a new digitalized map.

"These small, but beautiful pieces of land are like jewels in a crown. They adorn our highways with beauty and richness and are intended to keep the landscape unfettered and free of unsightly structures, towers and signs," Governor Rell said. "But over the last several decades they have not been clearly defined to the public and, unfortunately, they are at risk of being encroached upon. We must do all we can to identify, notify and protect."

The Governor said most of the land was purchased in the 1960s using federal Highway Beautification Funds. A recent survey by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) notes that more than 40 acres have been dedicated as scenic, protected land around the state, including Route 2 in Glastonbury, Route 44 in Norfolk and other parcels in Colchester, Essex and Middletown.

The CEQ reported that in one case a cell tower had been erected adjacent to one scenic strip because the preserved status of that land was unknown to the Connecticut Siting Council, the state Department of Transportation, the municipality and its citizens. Governor Rell said she appreciated the CEQ highlighting the need for identification and preservation of these parcels.

To ensure the preservation of the scenic parcels, the Governor has assembled a team of representatives from the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection, Connecticut Siting Council, Office of Policy of Management and the Council on Environmental Quality. They will be responsible for:

* Converting existing maps to digitalized format;

* Adding scenic land locations to the state's Geographic Information System (GIS) data for planning and permitting purposes;

* Evaluate current procedures at the DOT for identifying scenic lands in the permitting process for construction near major highways;

* Ensure state-owned scenic lands along major highways are part of the review for all projects under consideration by the Siting Council;

* Adopt policies to manage and preserve scenic lands similar to those of designated Scenic Roads.

"We have made great strides over the last decade preserving thousands of acres of valuable farmland and open space. Just as important is protecting what we already have including the beautiful landscape along our highways," Governor Rell said.

The Governor requested the team address the initiatives and submit a progress report to her by September 30.




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